Global film studios such as Paramount and Universal are also planning major attractions.
Dubailand focal point
Many of the parks are to be located in Dubailand, the $63.9bn mega-development being built on the outskirts of the emirate.
Although most of the parks are in the early stages of development, Dubailand plans to open a new attraction every six months by December 2010, according to Ahmed Tajedeen, the development's director of marketing.
All told, Dubailand is planning to build 45 mega projects, including the centerpiece theme parks.
Tajedeen brushes aside concerns that there will be too many attractions in the development. 'It is not right to say these parks are competing with each other. They will compliment each other,' he says. 'We are promoting Dubailand as one destination. It will be a place where you can take the kids on a seven or 10 day vacation because there is so much to do.'
Dubai is hoping to attract 15 million tourists a year by 2015, and theme parks are expected to play a huge role in helping to achieve this goal.
The emirate's proximity to Europe, Asia, and Africa gives it huge advantage as a tourism hot spot, Tajadeen believes: 'We think the volume will be there to support all of these parks. Look at the Mall of the Emirates. It is able to attract up to 150,000 people a day.'
Hotels bank on parks
Theme parks are also expected to play a vital role in keeping Dubai's hotel occupancy rates high, which will be no small feat as the emirate is planning to more than double the number of rooms over the next four to five years, says Guy Wilkinson, a partner at Specialist Hotel & Property Development Advisers.
One worrying scenario for developers of new hotels in Dubai is whether there will be delivery delays in the leisure projects. Wilkinson thinks it is likely that many parks will fall behind schedule because of materials shortages and the difficulty of designing these parks to deal with the region's heat.
Orlando has warm weather too, he points out, but visitors can still enjoy the rides in the summer. 'Dubai is much hotter, so there will need to be a lot of shade in its parks,' he notes.
Officials at Dubailand are confident that their parks will be successful despite the desert heat. 'All of these aspects have been taken into consideration for our projects,' says Mohammed Al Habbai, CEO of Dubailand. 'For instance, 80% of Universal Studios is covered, shaded and has indoor rides in addition to the fact that Dubai has a nice weather for around eight months a year, which deals with any concerns that are related to the weather.'
One of the theme parks, Aqua Dunya, may be on time because it is largely a water park, Wilkinson predicts, but the big parks that do not have water rides may not be ready for three to five years.
This could create a glut of available hotel rooms until the attractions are ready. 'There may be a trough in the growth curve in Dubai's hotel occupancy rates over the next few years before the theme parks open,' he predicts. 'Seeing a decline in any growth curve is not something we are used to here.'
Another concern is whether there will be too many parks. 'In order to be successful a large theme park will need to be able to attract about one million tourists per year,' Wilkinson explains.